When Karina Popovich ’23 started researching how she might use her three 3D printers to make protective gear for hospital workers, she was surprised how hard it was to find reliable instructions on the internet.
“I realized there were a lot of nuances with 3D-printing these items – certain files meet regulations better than others, and understanding these regulations is crucial,” said Popovich, a student in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, now home in Brooklyn.
“There are a lot of hobbyists with 3D printers in their garages who aren’t affiliated with any groups,” she said, “and because of how much information there is out there they can’t really get a grip on it to get started.”
She started a Slack channel, Makers for COVID-19, where more than 200 people now exchange tips and advice for 3D-printing protective gear and distributing it to hospitals in need, and where beginners can find instructions on the process. She also began a GoFundMe page to raise money for printing supplies.
Her network has the capacity to create 20,000 protective items per week, she said.
Popovich has already donated supplies to a hospital in Brooklyn, and plans to bring more to other hospitals in Queens.
“My friend’s neighbor works in an intensive care unit, and I just stopped by and gave her these masks,” said Popovich, whose printers have been running night and day. “She was super grateful and said every nurse loved them and appreciated them.”
– Melanie Lefkowitz